Believe it or not, the correct pelvic position seems to be still somewhat controversial. If you do a Google search, you’ll get a variety of answers. Some of them are quite different. One could divide them into three categories:
- Pelvis should be tucked under. Sometimes it is still promoted on personal training sites or in old exercise videos. All the exercises are aimed to fight an anterior pelvic tilt by tucking the tailbone under. It is not a good advice.
- Pelvis should be anteverted – the Gokhale method term for a certain angle of a slightly anterior pelvic position. More than a just a pelvic tilt, the angle between last lumbar vertebrae and sacrum is defined. It is also in line with Lisa Ann McCall Body Balance and Kathleen Porter Natural Posture. I highly recommend looking into Esther Gokhale, Lisa Ann McCall, or Kathleen Porter posture therapy methods.
- Pelvis should be neutral, as in Pilates.
What is the correct pelvic position then? Let’s start with a short anatomy lesson. The picture below shows pelvis from the side view. The two points we are interested in are something called ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine) and PSIS (Posterior Superior Iliac Spine). Those are fancy scientific terms for two sections of the ilium bone – the large wing-shaped bone of the pelvis.
The ASIS is the forward-most point on the topmost lateral curve of the hipbone. It is easy to feel just beneath the abdomen on the front of the hip.
The PSIS is a projection at the posterior end of the iliac crest. It can be located on the back, right above the buttocks. You can palpate the bony protrusions slightly outside of the ‘dimples’ of your low back.
The angle of the imaginary line between ASIS and PSIS defines the anterior (forward), posterior (backward), or neutral pelvis. I looked through a number of anatomy books and there are the following opinions on the matter – the line between ASIS and PSIS should be straight (‘neutral’ pelvis) or slightly anterior – 7-10 degree anterior angulation. From my observations, neutral pelvis does not allow for a correct spinal position and balanced weight distribution.
I agree with Esther Gokhale that there are other factors that should be taken into consideration. According to Esther Gokhale, the most important consequence of correct pelvic position is a state of a wedge-shaped L5-S1 disk and an even spinal groove. The L5-S1 disk is located where the lumbar and sacral spines meet, between the 5th lumbar vertebrae and the 1st sacral vertebrae. The slightly anteverted (tilted forward) pelvis preserves the space that properly accommodates the L5-S1 disk . Any other position of the pelvis compromises this disk and may “cause the L5-S1 disk to bulge, herniate, or sequestrate”. When pelvic position is compromised, the spinal groove becomes uneven. Too deep in some places, or too shallow in others, with damaging effect on disks.
The picture below illustrates correct pelvic position in conjunction with proper L5-S1 angle:
You can clearly see that this girl butt and shoulders are effortlessly positioned slightly behind the torso. Her loading joints are perfectly aligned above each other – naturally.
When pelvis is slightly anteverted (inclined forward without bending), pelvic organs have an optimal space in pelvic cavity with proper circulation. It allows them to have an optimal shape, orientation, and function.
The correct pelvic position provides proper weight distribution and balance. In the modern world, many people tend to carry their weight more to the middle or even on the front of the feet. The bones on the front of our feet are delicate and not designed to carry this weight. That is why so many people have bunions and plantar fasciitis.
When pelvis is slightly anterior, the body’s center of gravity is shifted back. It allows to re-align the joints of ankles, knees, and head of the femur. The correct joint position means proper balance.
People often complain about the tight hamstrings. The hamstrings are attached to the sitz bones. When pelvis is posterior tilted, the hamstrings become habitually shortened. This makes them tight and more susceptible to injuries.
Please be aware when fitness instructors talk about ‘neutral pelvis’ or recommend ‘tightening your abdominals and tucking your butt under’. Following these recommendations can be detrimental to your health.
Be Healthy. Be Active. Live Pain Free.